Six firey females - Rosemary McDonnell

Six firey females - Rosemary McDonnell

In the heart of the Adelaide Plains, Rosemary McDonnell is making waves for her strong leadership skills at her local CFS brigade.

She gave up the city life to run a hobby farm, but her true passion comes out when she puts on her Personal Protection Clothing (PPC) and jumps in a fire truck.

It only takes Rosemary five minutes from her rural property to the front door of the Dublin CFS Brigade - little wonder the mother-of-two is always ready to respond to incidents in her region.

“We have eight acres out here, with a few horses, about 40 chickens - oh and a dog and three cats, so it’s just as well the kids or hubby are here to look after the fort when I’m away,” she said.

The McDonnell family left Adelaide for the country in 2001 for a quieter life, which suited Rosemary’s personality to a tee.

“You might not believe it but I was a very shy person back then, and it was very unusual for me to go out – let alone join the CFS. But I just did one day, and I haven’t stopped coming since,” Rosemary said.

That was largely thanks to her neighbour who encouraged her to sign up as the brigade was in need for more volunteers.

“The role started to give me more confidence and everybody was extremely encouraging - not just towards me, but the entire brigade - to learn and gain skills in as many areas of the CFS as possible, even though Dublin mainly specialises in Road Crash Rescue,” she said.

A few years ago, Rosemary applied for one of a handful of spots for CFS volunteers and staff to attend a conference in New Zealand.

“I wrote a lengthy paper to attend the WAFA – or Women in Firefighting Australasia about how it would be beneficial for me as a leader and how this conference would help me encourage diversity within the CFS and I was fortunate enough to attend. To be surrounded by women who strive to achieve great things was inspiring and another important boost to my self-confidence,” she said.

When the all-important vacancy of Brigade Captain came up, the 48-year-old didn’t hesitate to nominate.

So here I am, and I just love the responsibilities that come with it: developing skills, engaging with our local community, running training nights and responding to a variety of incidents.

“Everybody works so well together, and I think that’s what keeps me going,” she said.

The only sticking point, Rosemary says, is that some of the older members have recently retired so she’s urging more to people sign up as a volunteer at Dublin CFS. 

“To anyone considering a CFS career – especially any women in the region - I’d love to see more people get involved and I’d be willing to help show them what they can accomplish and how they can gain more confidence in themselves. I guarantee they’ll be surprised by what they can achieve,” she said.

07 March 2024